Trial begins in Myanmar for former leader Aung San Suu Kyi

FILE PHOTO: Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured, is now being tried for sedition by the Burmese military junta.

Trials are now underway for Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate, a beacon for democracy in Myanmar, and the ousted Burmese leader that has been held prisoner by the military junta for 4 months after their coup on February 1. The former leader of Myanmar is on trial for sedition and a number of lesser and archaic law violations.

The courtroom proceedings did not allow any journalists or media in the room, which was described as a sparse simple courtroom built by previous military forces. Without an audience or observers, the room held only a witness, the defendants, the judge, 2 clerks, and lawyers for both the prosecution and defence.

In the courtroom in Naypyidaw, the administrative capital of Myanmar, Suu Kyi is accused of sedition following colonial-era laws along with a smattering of other various charges. Some charges listed include old colonial laws regarding secrecy and the accusation that she accepted gold in illegal payments.

She faces separate charges of violating the arcane secrecy laws in Yangon courts. The court even had witnesses testifying about charges that during last year’s elections, Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy violated Covid-19 restrictions. The NLD won 80% of the seats in a landslide victory for the party.

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According to her lawyer, Suu Kyi appears to be in good health during her court appearances and is said to be alert and attentive. She was described as always strong, smart and confident. If convicted of all the crimes she stands accused of, Suu Kyi could face more than 10 years in jail for the crimes.

Former president Win Myint and senior NLD leader Dr Myo Aung were present with Suu Kyi in the court appearance. They both stand facing similar charges of sedition. The trials are expected to continue, with court proceedings picking up again next week. The junta still maintains that the NLD victory was fraudulent and have threatened to dissolve the party, but have also pledged to hold a new election within 2 years.

Suu Kyi has been rarely seen or heard from since the Burmese military coup in February and the resulting months of often deadly protests. She has been held under house arrest and mostly seen when making court appearances over the last 4 months.

The court is reportedly surrounded by police security forces, as the popular democratic leader stands trial by the overwhelmingly unpopular military coup, whose leaders said they were surprised by the enduringness and intensity of the protests and backlash against their coup.

In fact, those protests that often turn violent, with the military crackdowns that have killed over 850 people already, have delayed this trial for months already with demonstrations and skirmishes crippling the economy and bringing much of Myanmar to a grinding halt.

After an ASEAN summit laid out a 5 point action plan that has largely been ignored, a humanitarian envoy was supposed to enter Myanmar to assess the situation, which has yet to happen. The junta fired Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, but the UN still recognizes his status, and he has been vocal about the need for the international community to intervene immediately. He says otherwise the military junta will be further enabled to commit human rights atrocities.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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